Familiar and Strange

photographer – Harold A. Parker, c. 1919

A photograph is a particularly concise method of capturing a moment in time – a moment that another can savor later, sometimes much later. The masks here look very familiar, but not the litter transporting the patient. Was this a standard stretcher replacement during the 1919 pandemic? How strange. The familiar and the exotic speak to us from a century ago. And yet, what do we really know? Is the patient falling ill, recovering, being tested, or just being allowed a brief trip outdoors? A photograph can convey with almost infinite detail, while unable on its own, to give us the larger story. I am drawn near, then tugged into its orbit. But my time traveling spaceship will never land for a closer look.

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